Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 7, 2022

Federal Appeals Court Axes Commercial Logging in Los Padres National Forest Roadless Area in California

Center for Biological Diversity News Release

Federal Appeals Court Axes Commercial Logging in Los Padres National Forest Roadless Area in California

LOS ANGELES― A federal appeals court blocked a commercial logging project in a roadless area of the Los Padres National Forest today, siding with three conservation groups to protect 1,100 acres of old-growth forest actively used by endangered California condors.

“This ruling is a big victory for the Antimony Roadless Area, which covers about 68% of the project area, and an even bigger win for the endangered California condors that have been roosting there for the past several years,” said Bryant Baker, conservation director for Los Padres ForestWatch.

Under federal law, logging in roadless areas is limited to small trees. In today’s ruling, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the U.S. Forest Service plan to cut down numerous trees up to 21-inches in diameter along Tecuya Ridge in the Antimony Roadless Area violated the law.

“This decision upholds the sanctity of the Roadless Rule, which protects some of the last remaining wild places in our national forests from harmful logging practices,” said Justin Augustine, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The previous administration made a reckless decision to OK cutting down trees in a remote area that contains prime habitat for California condors, California spotted owls and northern goshawks. Since the Biden administration values our roadless areas and wildlife, I expect they’ll ensure this beautiful forest remains protected, not commercially logged.”

The project, in the San Emigdio Mountains near the Ventura-Kern County line, was contentious from the start. People submitted hundreds of comments opposing the proposed commercial logging and the fact that the Forest Service used a loophole to approve it without environmental review.

In 2019 conservation groups sued the Forest Service, saying the project violated the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, would destroy prime habitat for endangered California condors and would fail to protect communities from wildfires as federal officials had claimed.

Today’s ruling sends the logging plan back to the Forest Service to complete the roadless rule review it failed to do before it approved the project.

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